Man in Gray | I Can’t Sleep Unless I Hear You Breathing (Serious Business)

Man in Gray, boasting high-volume, pop-structured sounds encased in a crunchy shell of volume and confusion debuts with I Can't Sleep Unless I Hear You Breathing, a polyamorous union of soul, British folk, and hardcore punk.

 

 

Fiery Brooklyn quintet Man in Gray, boasting high-volume, pop-structured sounds encased in a crunchy shell of volume and confusion debuts with I Can't Sleep Unless I Hear You Breathing, a polyamorous union of soul, British folk, and hardcore punk. The likes of Sonic Youth, Mission of Burma, the Pixies, Sleater-Kinney, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, vocalist Tina DaCosta, bassist Jared Friedman, drummer Jeremiah McVay, and guitarists Bryan Bruchman and Jeremy Joseph have managed, through Travis Harrison's direction, to unleash a whip-smart indie rock effort five years in the making.

I Can't Sleep… starts off hard and fast with DaCosta's voice machine-gunning lyrics high and wailing along with a strafe or two of angry guitars in "If You Ride It to the End, You'll Get What You Came For." "Sleeper" has its own clappy, drum-heavy noise, which is quickly joined by guitars and DaCosta's energetic dueting. "Stranded" lines in with guitars and a quieter drum backup, which quickly jumpstarts into DaCosta's aggressive, confrontational lyrics that progress toward a minimal, smooth delivery in "Commodity, Pt. 1," before soaring again into a raucous. "Crawl" deflates the energy of the last song, with its lengthy, slightly spooky, guitar intro and catchy solos, DaCosta's voice acting more as an accent than a focal point.

"Fault Lines" hints at a bit more melody than the previous songs, which picks up again in the soothing notes of DaCosta's voice in "Bad Mood." Far from mellow, the song still manages to evoke a bit of relaxation before the screams refresh in "Commodity, Pt. 2," which attacks materialism and offers great quips like, "Spurn the economy," at least that's what it appears to sound like; points for the word choice, which is remarkably free of irony. Back to the slow buildup, "Last Night's Party" returns DaCosta to the relentless thrust of drumming that overtakes the song only when the guitars give out and DaCosta needs a breath.

"Green" gives DaCosta just the pause she needs to recuperate from the previous nine tracks before the band shifts over to some Cranesesque sounds. The shoe-gazer moments don't last long, however, before DaCosta spazzes out again. The concluding track, "Your Baby is Dead" begins more conversationally and soon after works the last bits of energy out of the album, as DaCosta, Bruchman, McVay, Friedman, and Joseph unpeel everything they've got for an explosive conclusion that spins out and immediately diffuses.

Power chords and operatic training seem to agree with Man in Gray who, ever since their first memorable hit, "Incommunicado," have been clawing a presence for themselves in the music scene. They've certainly got the sound to be big and a fanbase that's still growing, all they've really got to do is keep up that momentum. Easier said than done, but certainly worth the trying. A- | James Nokes

RIYL: Sleater-Kinney, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth

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